Missouri has a long line of players who’ve excelled at their respective positions and have individual traits which help make them stand out. You know, like Drew Lock’s arm strength or the athletic ability and quick twitch of a guy like Sheldon Richardson.
Which is a good starting point for this question: How would you build your ideal player? We’ll start this week with the defensive line.
The makings of the best defensive lineman are broken down to these categories:
- Pass Rushing Ability
- Run Stopping Ability
Athleticism: Sheldon Richardson; 2011-2012
Sheldon Richardson came to Mizzou as one of the best junior college players in the country and it was evident immediately that he wasn’t a big, space eating defensive tackle. In fact, he was an athletic, flexible piece that could be used as a three technique or even occasionally be bumped out to end. It made sense when you saw his first step and his explosion off the line of scrimmage. Not a lot of players at nearly 300 pounds could move that quickly or efficiently while maintaining the power of Richardson’s first punch.
He’s well known at Missouri for his 2012 comments regarding “grown man football” and they may have looked bad in the moment, but Richardson backed his word up with his play. He was awesome in 2012 and it led to him being a first round draft pick.
Pass Rushing Ability: Aldon Smith; 2009-2010
Aldon Smith was one of the standard setters for D-Line Zou with the way he rushed the passer. He was much more than just a pass rusher, but that was especially where he excelled. Smith had a unique blend of speed and bend off the edge that made him one of the best pass rushers in the country. More than that, Smith was technically sound. He had a nice mix of pass rushing moves and always was ready to move onto a secondary move if the initial one didn’t work. There are a more than a few worthy choices, but I think Smith was just that good.
Run Stopping Ability: Terry Beckner, Jr; 2015-2018
When you talk about pure ability, Terry Beckner, Jr is one of the more talented players to come through Mizzou in the past 10 to 15 years. He is one of the biggest recruits to ever sign to Missouri and he absolutely stood out, even as a true freshman. You could immediately see flashes of what made him such a highly thought of prospect. With an elite first step and amazing amount of power, he controlled gaps as soon as he got onto campus.
However, his impressive freshman season was derailed by a torn ACL. His sophomore campaign was also ended early with another torn ACL to the opposite knee.
For a lot of players, two consecutive years of rehabbing major knee injuries would be difficult to come back from. Returning to the sport is an accomplishment in itself, but to return and have the impact that Beckner did in the two seasons following was even more impressive. In his final two seasons, he registered 22 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. All while receiving the majority of the attention of the offensive line.
I think my favorite part of Beckner’s game was the violent, yet quick use of his hands. One devastating club move to shuck the blocker and he was in the backfield.